Do you know what Suzhou, Guilin, and Hangzhou have in common? Yes, they are very popular tourist destinations but they share something else.
If you have visited any of those three cities you must have noticed the flower arrangements throughout the city or on flags with the distinguished flower proudly displayed on surrounding buildings. Have you noticed a tiny and delicate flower? It’s Osmanthus which you can see in all the gardens of Suzhou. Hangzhou even organises the West Lake Osmathus Festival in September. But the Osmanthus Crown must go to Guilin which is known as the “Forest of Osmanthus” and some botanists believe the flower has been in the city for over 10,000 years. In some parts of Guilin you can still taste a sweet wine made from the Osmanthus.
The Chinese People love their flowers and most cities have one dedicated to a certain flower.
Nanjing and Wuhan, both on the Yangtze River, are known for their plum blossom. You can find this flower very often in Chinese paintings and it represents courage, hope and a strong head. Both cities are very proud of their flower and as a result they have a plum blossom festival in late winter when calligraphy and paintings are on display celebrating the bloom.
China’s coldest cities, Urumqi, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Yinchuan and Shenyang, chose the toughest flower to represent them – the rose. Contrary to popular belief, the rose can survive in very low temperature, even in minus 40 C, as long as it remains frozen and does not thaw. The cultivation of roses is so successful in Urumqi that they have become a major regional export.
Being the capital of China, Beijing has two official flowers. Well, two that I known of – the Chrysanthemum and the Chinese Rose. Chrysanthemums have a long history in China, over 2,500 years, and traditionally symbolise longevity which made them an obvious choice for the capital city. Chinese Roses symbolize peace and friendship and have a tendency to change colour.
We have a lake near our home which we visit frequently and during the summer you can catch a glimpse of the vibrant colours of the Lotus, the flower of Macau. Now every time I pass a lotus I think of vibrant Macau. This flower symbolises re birth and during the winter the place where they are supposed to appear looks drab and unhopeful, but in spring it turns into a glorious display of colour – it is also the emblem of Buddhism.